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Australia - Where to base myself for 1-2 weeks?

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In a bit less than a year, I will have the opportunity to take three months off from work.

My current plans gravitate towards the BA/Quantas or OneWorld RTW ticket, with a short 2-3 day stay en route in - probably - Bangkok or Dubai and then the first "real" stop in Australia.
Will be first time visit, so no knowledge whatsoever other than it's a massive area to cover. I think I will have 4-6 weeks to spend downunder. But I do not plan to "see it all".

While the actual routing will probably take a lot more time to come up with, I am already looking for advice where to base myself for 1-2 week periods in between my intra-OZ travels. One thing I have learned from past longer vacations is that after a week "on the road" with changing hotels every night, I prefer to stay at one place for a week or more.

With that in mind, which of the (major?) cities would you suggest as a 1-2 week homebase?
My focus would be on number of sights/attractions either in town or in short distance that would still qualify as leisurly day trips, i.e. within 1-2hrs travel by bus, train or rental car to get there.
Another item (also with regard to costs) would be which hub would not necessarily require a rental car - or at least not for the whole period of my stay.
So far, I am thinking about Sydney and Melbourne as potential candidates for 1-2 wk stays. Any other opinions?

And, finally, when traveling in US I often used "Extended Stay Motels" for such purposes. Usually not in a scenic neighborhood, but fully equipped with kitchen, and at very low weekly rates (i.e. around US$ 250), Does this type of accomodation also exist in Australia?

Thanks for any tips, hints and advice.

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